New Hampton rallies to advance to district final

Chickasaws stun Osage, 60-58, will play Denver on Tuesday night

The first half was, well, it was just putrid, but that second half was just golden and New Hampton is on its way to the Class 2A district final game.

Down 33-19 after the first 16 minutes, New Hampton came charging back against second-seeded Osage and pulled out a 60-58 victory to improve to 7-14 and earn a date with Denver on Tuesday night.

“I think at halftime we realized we were better — a lot better — than we had shown,” said junior Drake Wemark, who finished with a game-high 26 points. “We had some good looks in that first half, and the shots just wouldn’t fall. But we had to forget about that and keep shooting.”

But the Osage game will be long remembered by the Chickasaws, and why not?

Down 14 at the half, New Hampton used an 11-2 run late in the third quarter to, and when Carter Steinlage hit two free throws, the Chickasaws were within a point at 39-38.

The Green Devils, who ended the season at 14-8, built the lead back to 46-40 early in the fourth quarter before New Hampton put together a 16-6 run — sparked by nine points from Steinlage and five by Wemark — to take a 56-52 lead with 2:08 remaining and held on for the win.

Wemark led the Chickasaws with 26 points while Steinlage had 17, all of which came in the second half.

And all the Chickasaws cared about was winning and earning a shot at a Denver team that is 18-5 after routing Sumner-Fredericksburg 81-61 Thursday night.

“We get to keep practicing and playing basketball,” senior Conner Rochford said, “and that’s all that matters.”

The site for Tuesday’s game that will tip off at 7 p.m. will be determined by the Iowa High School Athletic Association, and the winner of the district final will play either Aplington-Parkersburg or Forest City in the substate game on Saturday, Feb. 27.

— For more on this story, see the Feb. 23 Tribune

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